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Toxic Relationships are often Disguised as Love

I work a lot with couples, and my greatest wish for many of them is that I wish they had come to see me and taken action much sooner. So many leave it until the relationship is at breaking point with so much embedded resentment, and hurt that there just isn't a way forward to heal the wounds and rekindle any kind of connection.


Many of these clients find it hard to accept their relationship is toxic and that both their and their partner’s behaviour is emotionally abusive.

I guess it’s hard to accept that your behaviour is bullying, unkind or controlling or that the person you love and claims loves you, would be abusive towards you.

Let's look at some of these behaviours

Much of this behaviour is disguised as caring and wanting the best for you.

That’s the reason they worry about who you spend time with. They feel those friends aren’t the best company for you. Or that someone might make a pass at you, and they love you so much they can’t bear to lose you.

They worry if you are late home because they are concerned you may have had an accident. They couldn’t bear for anything to happen to you.

They explain they take care of the finances as they don’t want you to worry about it, and anyway you reason they have a much better head for finances.

When they criticise the way you look or what you wear you want to please them, so you comply as they only have your best interest at heart. And anyway you hope they will stop if you do what they say – but they don’t. In fact, it often gets worse. They fly into a temper, which they turn around and blame you for. It's your fault because you provoked them. It can even lead to threats of violence towards you or a loved one. They constantly put you down, often in front of others, saying you are stupid, that what you say is rubbish.

Or they threaten to end their lives if you ever consider leaving them.

When you speak up for yourself you are told you are imagining it, they were only joking and why can’t you take a joke.


We hear a lot about Gaslighting, and I experienced this in a previous relationship. It really does mess with your head!

They often lie, playing with your head, so that you feel you imagined it. They turn it back on you, behaving hurt accusing you of being distrustful, oversensitive and hurtful. They even go as far as saying YOU have a mental health issue. This kind of abuse is often referred to as Gaslighting. So named after the 1940’s film and play – Gaslight. It describes the form of psychological abuse in which the victim is gradually manipulated into doubting his or her own sanity.

But they say they love you!

There are times when they are loving, saying they are sorry and will change their ways, and so this leads to even more self-doubt. You want to believe them, and so you forgive them. For a while, things calm down and you really believe them and that it was just a blip. But the behaviour returns unless the abuser seeks help.

If you have concerns about whether this is happening in your relationship talk to someone about it. A trusted friend, a counsellor or one of the many websites that are out there.

It can be extremely hard to take those first steps towards leaving that person if they aren’t prepared to acknowledge their behaviour. This can be for many reasons. You believe they love you deep down, or you’re fearful of what they will do if you try to leave. Or perhaps you are scared that you won’t find anyone else. (which is often what you are told by them) But trust me when I say that this kind of behaviour can erode your self-confidence, making you feel worthless and frightened to do almost anything, How do I know? Well, partly from working with the many clients I have worked with – both men and women. And I also know from personal experience. I was in an emotionally abusive relationship for several years. I experienced a lot of the behaviour I have talked about above. I finally got out of the relationship, but it left me emotionally broken for quite some time.

This happens to men and women alike. Don’t let this happen to you, get help from a professional or a trusted friend. Please share this with friends, as many may not recognise the signs. As a relationship specialist, I’m always happy to have a chat.

Contact me here


The Love~Listen~Talk~Repeat Podcast with Wendy Capewell

#124 - How to Heal and Empower Yourself after a Toxic Relationship - Stephanie Martin

Stephanie Martin is a certified life coach and self-love advocate. Through coaching services, speaking, and writing, she helps women who’ve experienced toxic relationships to heal and empower themselves so they can create their own ‘happily ever after’ and finally get the love they deserve. In her signature coaching program "Liberated and Loved" she helps her clients reclaim their power, independence, and confidence so they can live the life they've always dreamed of.



* How we discover ourselves in what we thought was a loving relationship, and is in fact toxic.

*How toxic behaviours can be disguised as love and caring.

* How to find our voice, empower and love ourselves.

* Understanding it’s not our fault, and we come from a place of love and concern for the other, and often as a result of people-pleasing.

* How to learn to heal and love ourselves again.

Take good care of yourself


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